June 22, 2001The Bush administration's vision of an electronic government is far from becoming reality, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Thursday before the House Government Reform Committee. The hearing focused on agency progress toward reaching the mandates set out in the 1998 Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA). GPEA requires that agencies put their forms online by Oct. 21, 2003. Daniels said close to 6,000 forms covered by GPEA do not yet have electronic counterparts. "A great deal more needs to be done in order to expand the potential of the Internet to fulfill the President's vision of a 'citizen-centered' government that transforms each agency's Web presence," said Daniels. GPEA is also the chief law supporting efforts to modernize business processes and information technology systems. "Too many agencies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining outdated computer systems," said committee chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind. "Too many agencies are saddled with computer systems that can't talk to one another. And too many agencies haven't had the vision to break out of the old way of doing things," he said. Agencies were required to submit their plans for meeting GPEA requirements to the Office of Management and Budget in October 2000. The results were varied, Burton said. The Treasury Department laid out a clear strategic plan that demonstrated high-level support. But Burton lambasted the Defense Department for providing OMB with incomplete information that lacked evidence of strategic planning. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs "are bogged down with outdated information systems and paper files," Burton said, indicating that agencies must think beyond GPEA and make strategic IT investments. Burton used the U.S. Mint's enterprise resource planning system as an example of a government 'best practice.' Daniels said that agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have solid plans for meeting GPEA requirements. They have been most effective when matching GPEA objectives with the goals of their IT capital planning process and information architecture, he said. He named the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense and Justice as agencies whose GPEA plans are lackluster. Daniels said eliminating unnecessary transactions was a top priority for the federal government. "We must uncover duplicative reporting requirements and areas where programs can share the information they collect," he said.
June 22, 2001